Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

DeepMind's Streams technology team to join Google

DeepMind's Streams technology team to join Google

Privacy advocates say that by allowing Google to absorb Streams, DeepMind now has little hope of guaranteeing patient data will be used in an ethical way.

DeepMind health works with NHS hospitals to train algorithms to diagnose disease. "This is a major milestone for DeepMind", DeepMind said in a blog post about the move.

The news has raised concerns about the privacy of NHS patient's data which is used by DeepMind and could now be commercialised by Google.

Some background: Google acquired London-based artificial intelligence startup DeepMind in 2014 for $500 million.

According to CNBC, the health division of Alphabet's AI research group known as DeepMind will be moving over to Google's new Health unit - which is being headed up by former Geisinger CEO Dr. David Feinberg.

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Broken promises?: DeepMind repeatedly promised to never share data with its parent company Google. The change has also resulted in the dismantling of an independent review board, created to oversee the company's work with the healthcare sector, with Google arguing that the board was too focused on Britain to provide effective oversight for a newly global body.

"Patient data remains under our partners' strict control, and all decisions about its use will continue to lie with them", said a spokesman for DeepMind. The watchdog did not stop DeepMind from continuing to use or develop Streams. The whole Streams app is now a Google product.

As an audit by law firm Linklaters found earlier this year, the Streams app does not even involve artificial intelligence, machine learning or "other advanced technology".

Powles told The Guardian that Google's position that it would process patients' data without associating them with Google "accounts, products or services" amounted to "sleight of hand".

"The benefits of the Streams app instead come from a very well-designed and user-friendly interface, backed up by solid infrastructure and data management", Linklaters wrote.

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